Icy flavor that’s bracing as a glacier
When you think of Alaska, you might picture whales or ice floes. But cocktails? Not so much.
Let’s change that. Because the Alaska Cocktail is perfect for transitioning into the cooler weather we’ll be seeing soon in the Northern Hemisphere.
Drink it before dinner, and it lightens up heavier autumn fare. Sip it at the last summer cookout, and it will console as you put the Weber away for winter.
Recipe: The Alaska Cocktail
As with so many cocktails, the origins of the Alaska are obscure. It dates back to the early 20th century at least, and originally may have contained Old Tom gin — a brand of sweetened gin that used to be very popular.
These days, the Alaska is always made with dry (London) gin. Yellow chartreuse and a dash of orange bitters complete the recipe. BTW, if you can’t find yellow Chartreuse, the green variety will work too–just use a bit less (the green is stronger). But yellow has a better flavor in this cocktail, IMO.
When mixing this drink, the biggest challenge is getting the ratio just right. Too much Chartreuse, and its floral flavor overwhelms the drink. Too little, and it disappears into the gin.
Some early recipes called for a 2:1 ratio of gin to Chartreuse. Way too heavy for my taste! I’ve settled on a 3:1 ratio. But sometimes I make it 4:1, and find that pleasing too (if substituting green Chartreuse, I definitely recommend the 4:1 ratio).
This recipe takes several minutes to make, and serves one.
- 1½ ounces gin (use dry “London” gin; see Notes)
- ½ ounce yellow Chartreuse
- dash of orange bitters (you can skip this if you wish, but it’s better with)
- lemon twist for garnish (optional)
- Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass half full with ice. Add all ingredients except garnish. With a long-handled spoon, stir until the liquid is icy cold.
- Strain into a cocktail glass (preferably one that’s been chilled). Add a twist of lemon for garnish, if desired, and serve.
- Why stir this drink rather than shake? Because the ingredients are clear, and you want the drink itself to stay as clear as possible. If you shake, you’ll introduce oxygen into the drink, which creates air bubbles that make the drink look a bit cloudy.
- When a cocktail recipe specifies gin, it’s usually understood these days to mean London dry gin—which is also the type most commonly found in liquor stores. Any good name-brand dry gin will work well in this drink.
- In addition to London dry, you might see Dutch or Belgian gin (sometimes called jenever or genever), which is made from malt rather than grain. There’s also Old Tom Gin, which (as noted above) has a sweeter taste. Both of these varieties are harder to find than London dry.
- Carthusian monks began making Chartreuse during the 1740s in the town of Voiron (close to Grenoble and the French Alps in southeastern France). Production hasn’t been continuous, though. The brothers were expelled from France in 1793 and again in 1903. They produced Chartreuse in Spain from 1903 to 1927, when they regained possession of their distillery in Voiron.
- Chartreuse is sweet, with strong herbal flavoring (it’s made from a mix of 130 herbs, roots, and leaves). This liqueur is extremely pungent, so in cocktails a little goes a long way.
- Yellow Chartreuse is a bit milder, with less edge than the green variety. Most of the time, you shouldn’t substitute one for the other. But in this drink, you can get away with using either green or yellow, although yellow is the better choice IMO.
- Speaking of green Chartreuse, we’ve used it in a couple of other cocktails: the Champs Élysées and the Last Word.
- My usual orange bitters is Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6, but any brand will work in this drink.
Rounding Up the Summer Sippin’ Series
This summer we’ve been featuring a different warm weather-appropriate cocktail each week during our Summer Sippin’ Series. But all good things come to an end. We’ll soon be back to our normal schedule, which means just one post about cocktails each month—at least for a while.
We began this year’s Summer Sippin’ Series right after Memorial Day, with The Bridal Cocktail. In June, we featured the Mimosa, the Dark and Stormy, the Caipirinha, and the Bacardi Cocktail.
In July, we served up the Gin Rickey, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, the Harvey Wallbanger, the Cuba Libre, and the Maiden’s Prayer.
Then in August we celebrated Tiki month, with a platter full of Tiki-themed drinks and food posts. We had a swell time lounging about and sipping the Volcano Bowl, the Scorpion, the Hula Hula, and the Blue Hawaii.
And now we’re ending this year’s Summer Sippin’ Series with The Alaska Cocktail.
But fret not. We have loads of fun food posts coming your way. And during the first week of October, we’ll sample yet another great cocktail.
Now where should we store those Tiki torches?
You may also enjoy reading about:
The Bridal Cocktail
Dark and Stormy
Royal Bermuda Yacht Club
Champs Élysées Cocktail
Last Word Cocktail
Or check out the index for more